Chapter 16 - Previous question

  

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94    Form of previous question

  1. The previous question shall be put in the form – That this question be not now put.

  2. The previous question cannot be moved to an amendment, nor in committee, nor can an amendment be moved to it.

  3. The previous question temporarily supersedes the original question and any amendment, but in debating it the original question and any amendment may be debated.

Amendment history

Adopted: 19 August 1903 as SOs 145, 148 and 150 (corresponding to paragraphs (1) to (3))

1989 revision: Old SOs 152, 155 and 157 combined into one, structured as three paragraphs and renumbered as SO 94

Commentary

The previous question is one of the methods identified in standing order 89 for avoiding or delaying the putting of the question and preventing senators from being forced to express an opinion on a motion. An unusual feature is that it may be debated but not amended (as with motions for the adjournment of the Senate under SO 53 and urgency motions under SO 75). It may be moved only to a substantive motion in the Senate, not to an amendment and not in committee of the whole.[1]

It is a very rare procedure, having been used only twice in the Senate, but its ancient place in the parliamentary armoury makes it difficult to abandon completely though its value would appear to be purely vestigial.[2] Even Edwards, in the 1938 MS, was questioning whether the provisions “might not with advantage be dropped from the Standing Orders”, because at that point there had been no use made of them in either House. As noted under SO 89, there are simpler and more effective ways to achieve the same end.

See Australian Senate Practice, 6th edition, pp.333–35, for further commentary.

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